Monday, 17 September 2018


by Jeanette O'Hagan

Social Media has, in many ways, been a boon for writers and readers. As an writer, we can network with other writers and connect with readers and fans. And of course many of us are aware of a variety of forms of social media - particularly Facebook and Twitter, but maybe also Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn etc.

There is one major social media site that is specifically aimed at Readers as well as catering for Writers - GoodReads.

GoodReads is an online social media for avid readers – a little like Facebook. It has many great functions/features and can be useful for both readers and writers (or writers who are readers). It may take a little while to explore all it has to offer but I think that is time well spent.

Advantages as a Reader

1. An online record of the books you have read, are reading or want to read.

According to Good Reads, I’ve read 852 books – actually I've probably read a few more, but these are the ones I've recorded.

In Goodreads we can shelve a book as Want to Read, Currently Reading and Read (with the dates started and finished reading) as well as add as many other categories we want (e.g. fantasy, mystery, Australian author, Christian fiction, etc).

We can record information about the books (including if we own them, or have lent them out). We can sort them on our own designated shelves, rate them, review them and even send on recommendations to friends. If our Goodreads account is linked to Facebook, we can choose for this information may go on our Facebook wall.

This is also a way to promote favourite authors – as other readers may decide on which books to read on the ratings and/or reviews of books.

I also wonder if there is a way of backing up one’s database of books. What happens if Good Reads suddenly goes out of business and my carefully curated and review lists suddenly cease to exist? Good Reads can (and has) removed reviews and lists that contravene their guidelines.

2. Sort your books in shelves, lists etc.

I’ve started up a range of shelves that categorise my books (e.g. fiction/non-fiction; Christian; children/YA/adult; historical, spec fiction, biography etc).

There are also shared public lists – Listopia – such as “What Every Teen Should Read” or Australian Christian authors or CWD Writers. Goodreads participants can add books or vote for books on these lists (up to 100 books in any one list) or make their own lists in which others can add to or vote. 

Some of the Lists I've voted on

Lists are great when you are searching for a particular type of book. Anyone can start a list, and, in many cases, can add books to a list, though authors can't add their own books.

If you are not sure what to read next, Goodreads is an excellent way of finding new titles to read. You can look up lists like Young Adult Fantasy or Clean Romances, read reviews, ask a members of a group you've joined or see what your friends are reading.

3. Other activities

You can also collect quotes from favourite authors, follow your favourite authors as fans, participate in challenges, quizzes or giveaways or join discussion groups on your favourite genre or interests or comment on other peoples reviews etc..

A news feed keeps you up to date with your friends’ activities.

Since about 2013, I've enjoyed the Goodreads Reading Challenge - I set myself a challenge to read 60 books for the year. Some people have much bigger goals, others have less.

Advantages for Authors

Goodreads was primarily set up as an online group of readers but it also offer opportunities to authors – that is those with published books (whether self-published, indie or traditional publishing). After all, Goodreads is populated with keen readers - just the people authors want to reach.

1. Author page

Authors can convert their user profile to an Author’s profile that can include a bio, photo, a list of published works, blogs, videos etc. They can upload the covers and details of their own books. Link their blog to their Goodreads account. 

2. Connect with Fans

Readers can ask Authors questions, with the responses posted for other fans to read. They can also become followers or fans of authors and will receive relevant updates from Goodreads.

Make sure you are aware of the Goodreads Author policy. In general, it's best not to respond to reviews of your own books, as this can alienate many readers. Always remember that Goodreads is primarily aimed at readers - even though it also welcomes authors.

3. Be part of Groups

Also, Authors have an opportunity to interact with readers through groups though the temptation to over-promote needs to be resisted. As with most promotion, you need to interact and support others, building community and connections. So the best thing as a Goodreads author is also to be a reader, write reviews and participate in groups while being restrained in self-promotion opportunities. While this may seem slow, in the long run it will much more fruitful.

Goodreads provides a useful and enjoyable resource for both Readers and Authors. Unlike some forms of social media, you can have a significant presence without spending screeds of time online – and the more books and reviews you add, the more significant your presence.

While it may not suit everyone, I think Goodreads provides a valuable resource for readers and writers.

So do you use Goodreads? What features do you like best about it? Are there things you are not so keen on? Are there some tips you would like to share? Or, as a novice, are there some burning questions you would like to ask?

My Goodreads page . Put your Goodreads profile in the comments if you want to connect with others in CWD.

Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories. Stone of the Sea is planned to be released in October this year.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

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  1. Great post Jenny. Thanks for sharing - it's a very comprehensive post. I personally find I can't cope with all the social media so though I started off with good intentions of using it regularly - I now find it less time consuming having my own lists rather than putting it all out there. GoodReads is definitely a reader's paradise for those who use it regularly. Good on you Jenny for being able to use its features to your advantage. And thanks so much for inviting us all in to partake of its goodies. :)

    1. Thanks, Anusha. Yes, impossible to do all the social media, but even if time is an issue, I think it's a good idea for authors to set up an author profile on Goodreads and link their blog to it even if they do nothing else.

  2. Hi Jenny, GR sure makes it easier than ever before for authors and readers to connect, and I've latched onto to some great books in the recommendations which I wouldn't have heard of otherwise. I've had good times scrolling through reviews by friends, and enjoy discussions about various books. So it really is a boon to readers, although it can be a time suck trap too :)

    1. Hi Paula, yes, there are lots of fun things to do :) I like scanning reviews before reading a book I don't know much about and looking at listopia for books too.

  3. Thanks Jenny. One of the features I love the most is the 'want to read' button. When you see a review of a book that interests you, you can click the button and then can always look back at your list. The problem is that you can end up with hundreds on your 'to read' list, but it's still a good way to remember things. I also like being able to list my books and categorise them into shelves. I haven't found the groups as good, because some people just use them to promote their own books. But maybe I just haven't found the right groups yet?

    Having said that, Goodreads can be used to promote your own books in a good way. However, I get annoyed when some people only use it for that purpose without getting involved in the community. For example, you'll see some authors who've listed all of their own books and promote them, yet don't review other people's books or enter discussions about other books. I know it can get tricky, but I think there needs to be 'give-and-take.

    1. Hi Nola,

      I love the to-read button too - but, yes, it does tend to blow out lol. Another good thing about the to-read button is that, if that book is part of a giveway, GR will let you know.

      And I agree that author promotion should be polite, sensitive and mutual. Many groups have strict rules about how and when or even if authors can promote their own books. I think that is a good thing as readers soon tire of groups that are solely about promotions & they rapidly become empty except for people trying to promote books.

      Thanks for your comment :)

  4. Goodreads is a great site and one I haven't been utlising as much as I should! If only there was more time ...

    1. Ah, yes - finding time can be hard. Though I think you've participated in a number of groups, Lynne - something I think I should do more of.

  5. I'm about with Lynne at the moment. I really enjoy Goodreads but have had a busy year and have only used it minimally. I love writing reviews and find others' reviews helpful, but I rarely have time to give my reviews justice. Better next year perhaps.Thanks for a good post, Jenny.

    1. Thanks Jeanette. That's my biggest involvement in Goodreads - I enjoy the discipline of writing reviews and it helps me reflect on the book I've just read.